BINGO! Gov. DeWine Specifies Parameters For Bingo Halls To Reopen In Ohio

Posted on August 28, 2020

What do a Perry Township farm with alpacas and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s latest executive order have to do with each other? Ohio bingo halls are the answer.

DeWine has set down protocols for bingo halls around the state to reopen. Among other things, that may help save the alpacas and other businesses in Ohio.

Details on the COVID-19 restrictions for Ohio bingo halls

In conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health, DeWine’s order explicitly includes bingo halls as one of the entertainment venues allowed to welcome players. There are some strict requirements, however, including:

  • Mandatory wearing of face masks
  • Capacity limit of 15% of fire code or 300, whichever is lesser
  • Seated players must be at least six feet apart

The issue came about recently when Ohioans questioned why¬†venues that host bingo games for charitable causes couldn’t reopen, if casinos and racetracks can welcome hundreds of guests.

DeWine agreed and issued the guidance. Prior to that, there was an inconsistent standard on the issue, depending on which part of the state the halls operated.

For example, halls in Canton, Massillon, and Stark counties continued operating with restrictions in June and July. The reasoning behind that was a lack of specific direction from the state.

When state officials got wind of that activity earlier this month, however, they ordered the halls closed. Now, there’s a consistent and specific standard statewide for them to reopen.

That may aid the causes that these bingo halls benefit by recouping some much-needed funds.

That’s where Stump Hill Farm and the alpacas come in.

Stump Hill stumping for bingo players again

Cyndi Huntsman, who runs a bingo hall to provide the funds for her animal rehabilitation center in Perry Township, can now resume hosting the games. The concern is whether the capacity will allow her to pull enough revenue, however.

Huntsman estimated that the shutdown cost her thousands. For that reason, she had to find new homes for 10 animals previously at her center including goats, lemurs, and tortoises. For now, the alpacas remain at the site.

She stated that she relies on the bingo games to provide about $20,000 each year to fund the center. With the 15% capacity in place, she’s worried that she may not be able to gather that much this year.

Other charities who rely on bingo proceeds have shared similar concerns. They’re wondering why they can’t operate at a capacity closer to the 50% of fire code that casinos and racetracks in Ohio currently enjoy.

It’s a tightrope that all governing bodies must walk right now. Trying to balance public health with allowing people to maintain their livelihoods during a pandemic is no easy thing.

For the time being, Ohio bingo halls will have to do their best as they reopen a limited capacities.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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